Review: Passéisme – Eminence

Never let a name fool you. Contrary to what their name and the title of their album might make you believe, Passéisme does not hail from France. This black metal band with the somewhat peculiar name in fact originates from Nizhny Novgorod, a town in central Russia, a little to the East of Moscow, which is formerly known as Gorky. This three-man piece, completely according to tradition consisting of members that are only know by their initials, is still quite young, as the band came to life in 2019. The three, I assume, guys, IM on guitar, KK on bass and as vocalist and AV on drums, didn’t waste any time as they have already released a demo and a three-song split with Dagor Bragollach and Kpax and are now ready to unleash their first full-length on the world. It’s called Eminence and contains seven songs, or chants as they are titled, that combined keep you entertained for a little over 36 minutes. The French connection, no pun intended, isn’t just a random coincidence, as the band’s lyrical inspiration is drawn from the Fin de Siècle, the renown, illustrious turn of the century that refers to the transition from the 19th to the 20th century, along with decadent aesthetics. Needless to say the lyrics aren’t going to be too sweet and soothing, but choosing for a black metal band pretty much implies you weren’t looking for that anyway.

Who needs an overkill of information? According to the not exactly abundantly present information about Passéisme, they play fast melodic black metal and that is actually spot on. A no-nonsense description of themselves that finds imitation in their music. No pointless intro, no careful fading in of the different instruments used in their tunes, Passéissme simply starts full force with Chant for Tribulation, with high speed blast beats dominating and dictating the song. The typical, desolate sounding vocals of KK, certainly not your typical run of the mill black metal vocals, perfectly fit the strangely appealing guitar riff that combined give the song a hauntingly rebellious atmosphere. A great introduction to Passéisme’s music. Things then initially slow down with successor Chant for Harvest, but that is only temporary. The blast beats return after a minute and a half or so and with it, of course, the higher tempo. The transition is so smoothly integrated into the song, you won’t notice it unless you know. And that is not all this song has to offer, because at about halfway through it turns into some sort of battle song complete with matching sounds of bottles being raised to a toast, although, considering the lyrical theme, it is quite likely it’s not meant to resemble such a toast at all. An assumption of course, but one that bears little consequence, as it doesn’t change the brilliant feel of the song one bit in my opinion.

By now it has become clear the guys from Passéisme put a lot of emphasis and focus on the melodic aspect, that maintains throughout the entire album. Although on the next song, Chant for Austerity, they turn things up a notch, ranking it among the heaviest and speediest ones on the album, they still stay true to this concept. The relentless drumming and the powerful guitar- and bass lines torture your ear drums even more than before, positively speaking of course, and KK manages to make his vocals sound even more haunting. Chant for Insolence, the next in line, can easily be considered a summary of the entire album, as it packs all aspects of Passéisme, or at least this release, into one song. This already marks the halfway point of Eminence, which leaves us with just a final triptych of songs, Chant of Parade, Chant of Splendour and Chant of Enlightenment. A triptych that holds two strong Passéisme-style songs, strongly composed and executed predominantly black metal songs with a healthy dose of melodicism, with a short acoustic intermezzo in between. Though all definitely worth your time, album closer Chant of Enlightenment takes the crown offering an exciting ten-minute journey through melodic black metal country. A sweet end to a superb album.

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